Canada - National Non-smoking Week, January 17-23, 2010..

January 18, 2010
Theme: "Quitting is contagious, pass it on!"

Established by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control (CCTC) and observed for more than 30 years, the goals of National Non-smoking Week are:
to educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking;
to prevent people who do not smoke from beginning to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco;
to help people quit smoking;
to promote the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke;
to denormalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices, tobacco products, and tobacco use; and to assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada.

Is quitting smoking contagious? Recent research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests it could be. Nicholas A. Christakis, of Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts, and James Fowler, of the University of California, San Diego examined the social lives of 12,067 people who were part of a large interconnected social network and had been assessed several times between 1971 and 2003 as participants of the Framingham Heart Study.

The researchers found that it was easier for people to quit smoking when others in their social circle also kicked the habit. People followed the quitting habits of their spouses, friends, brothers and sisters, and in small firms, behaviour of co-workers was also influential.

The greatest influence was seen in close relationships. When a husband or wife quit, the chance that their spouse would smoke, fell by 67%. When a brother or sister quit, the chance a sibling smoked decreased by 25%. Smoking cessation by a friend decreased the chances by 36% and among people working in small firms, smoking cessation by a co-worker decreased the chances by 34%.

Decisions to quit smoking were not made solely by isolated persons, but rather they reflected choices made by groups connected to each other both directly and indirectly at up to three degrees of separation. If one person quit, the odds of a person two degrees apart quitting was 29%. In a three-degree separation, the chances were 11%.

Those who continued to smoke, meanwhile, formed their own social circles that, over time, shifted from the centre of the social network to the periphery.

This research highlights the powerful role that social networks play in smoking behaviours and decisions. It suggests that cessation programs may work better if aimed at groups rather than individuals and indicates that one person quitting may lead to others quitting too.
Source Information

Christakis, Nicholas A. and Fowler, James H. "The collective dynamics of smoking in a large social network." New England journal of medicine. 358(21): May 22, 2008. 2249-2258.

Reference: “Quitting is contagious, pass it on!.”, CNNW, 1/17/2010.

Other references: Government of Canada Encourages Healthy Living in Canadians through Smoking Cessation Program, 1/18/2010; Ontario - National Non-Smoking Week Kicks Off; Non-Smoking Week promoting the fact that quitting is contagious; National Non-Smoking Week - Jan 17-23, 2010 Newfoundland-Labrador; National Non-smoking Week being held Jan. 18 - 22 (10/01/18) New Brunswick;